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2020 Census faces challenges with “hard-to-count” populations

Updated: Dec. 15, 2019 at 5:54 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - A new decade is around the corner, and that means a new Census is too. However, some areas face unique challenges in making sure everyone is counted. Charlottesville is one of them.

The Census describes the “hard-to-count” populations as people who do not respond to census takers or are more difficult to fully count. Sometimes, they might just be harder to find than most.

“This can be a lot of complex households, people that move a lot, people that are afraid to share their information and all of those populations may cause an under-count,” Spencer Shanholtz, a policy analyst at U-V-A’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service explained.

This disproportionately includes immigrants and people who live in poverty.

According to U.S. Census data, one tract in downtown Charlottesville, where almost two out of three live in poverty, sees responses to census efforts 20% lower than average.

"An under-count usually impacts low income people the most,” Shanholtz said. “They’re the ones that are most mobile, the ones with the most young children, and the ones that may be afraid to share their information.”

Those low income areas are usually the ones that need to be counted accurately the most.

“If we can't get an accurate count, those people aren't represented in the census,” Shanholtz said. “Thus those areas may get less funding, affecting them."

The hard-to-count population also includes college students. The Census Bureau encourages them to count themselves where they live during the school year, as that’s likely their address for most of the year.

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